Chelsea will be aiming to strengthen their hold on the fourth spot in the Premier League table when they face off against Everton on Sunday afternoon.

Matchweek 29 of the 2019-20 Premier League season continues on Sunday with two enticing fixtures coming our way. The first of those will take place at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea play hosts to Everton with an eye on consolidating their position in the top four.

Chelsea are currently fourth in the Premier League standings, but have just a two-point lead over Wolves in the fifth position. Moreover, Manchester United could take the spot for themselves should they come out on top in the derby on Sunday and Frank Lampard’s side taste defeat, making the clash extremely vital for the Blues.

Chelsea will go into the game with momentum on their side, though, having beaten Liverpool 2-0 in the FA Cup fifth round earlier this week. A win could also see the home team put pressure on third-placed Leicester City, reducing the gap between them to just two points.

Everton, on the other hand, find themselves in the twelfth spot in the table, following their 1-1 draw against Manchester United last weekend. The Toffees have enjoyed a resurgence since former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti took over the reins in December, having lost just one of their last seven league matches and will be hoping to carry forward that run at Stamford Bridge.

The reverse fixture, played at Goodison Park in December, saw Everton triumph 3-1 courtesy a Dominic Calvert-Lewin brace and a Richarlison strike. And ahead of their latest meeting on Sunday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams;

Team News & Tactics

Chelsea

Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic are unavailable for Chelsea (Photo by John Thys/AFP via Getty Images)

Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic are unavailable for Chelsea (Photo by John Thys/AFP via Getty Images)

Star striker Tammy Abraham, midfield mainstays N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic have been definitively ruled out for Chelsea along with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Marco van Ginkel, while Willian and Christian Pulisic are also major doubts. Jorginho is suspended for the tie as well, compounding Lampard’s issues in midfield.

Given the lack of options in the middle of the park, there is a strong possibility that Lampard will revert to a three-man backline against Everton on Sunday. Another big selection headache for the Chelsea boss will be for the goalkeeping spot after Kepa Arrizabalaga put in a fine performance in midweek against Liverpool.

Following that display, the Spaniard should be reinstated in the lineup at the expense of Willy Caballero, while the three-man defence is likely to comprise of captain Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and Kurt Zouma. Reece James and Marcos Alonso, who is enjoying a rich vein of form, ought to line up as the wing-backs on the right and left sides, respectively.

Teenage sensation Billy Gilmour was the star of the show for Chelsea against Liverpool in midweek. With Jorginho, Kante and Kovacic all unavailable, the youngster is in line to start in the Blues’ midfield on Sunday, partnering former Everton star Ross Barkley.

Up ahead in attack, Olivier Giroud should be persisted with as the focal point of the Chelsea attack, with Pedro and Mason Mount likely to play off him in the attacking midfield slots.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Zouma; James, Barkley, Gilmour, Alonso; Pedro, Mount; Giroud

Everton

Unlike Chelsea, Everton have just three players absent for their trip to London with Seamus Coleman ruled out along with Morgan Schneiderlin and Jean-Philippe Gbamin. Lucas Digne, who missed the past couple of matches due to a muscular problem, has recovered fully and is expected to be available for selection.

Ancelotti has stuck with the 4-4-2 formation since taking over at Everton and is unlikely to make any tweaks to the system that seems to be working fine for his team. Jordan Pickford will continue between the sticks and will look to avoid making any errors like he did in the Manchester United clash last time out.

With Coleman ruled out, Djibril Sidibe ought to start at right-back while Michael Keane and Mason Holgate, who has been linked with a summer switch to Manchester City, are expected to be retained as the two centre-backs. With Digne back to full fitness, there is a good chance he will replace Leighton Baines on the left side of the Everton defence.

There are unlikely to be any changes in midfield with the energetic Tom Davies pairing up with former Barcelona man Andre Gomes at the centre, while the width will come from Theo Walcott and Gylfi Sigurdsson, who will also pose a threat from set-pieces.

The strike partnership of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison seems to be working wonders for Everton and should not be tinkered with by Ancelotti on his return to Stamford Bridge.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Pickford; Sidibe, Keane, Holgate, Digne; Walcott, Davies, Gomes, Sigurdsson; Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison

Key Stats

  • Chelsea have lost their last two Premier League games against Everton. The Blues haven’t lost three consecutive league games against the Toffees since August 1984 (five in a row).
  • Everton are winless in their last 24 away Premier League games against Chelsea (D11 L13) since a 1-0 win in November 1994. The Toffees have only had a longer away winless run in the top-flight against Leeds United between 1946 and 2001 (35 games).
  • Chelsea are looking to keep four consecutive home league clean sheets against Everton for the first time since February 1935.
  • Since Carlo Ancelotti’s first game in charge of Everton on Boxing Day, only Liverpool (30) and Manchester City (19) have won more Premier League points than the Toffees (18). Indeed, Everton have scored in all 10 of their league games under the Italian – the current longest scoring run in the division.
  • Chelsea have won just two of their eight games in the Premier League in 2020 (W2 D4 L2), registering the 11th best record in this calendar year.

Player to Watch

Billy Gilmour

A star in the making (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

A star in the making (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The 18-year-old midfielder has impressed at almost every opportunity afforded to him by Frank Lampard this season. However, it was in the last game against Liverpool that Gilmour made a true statement, putting in an exemplary performance in the cup tie against Jurgen Klopp’s brigade.

With Lampard suffering from a shortage of options in midfield heading into the Everton game, Gilmour is in contention to start his first-ever Premier League game this weekend. And the young Scotsman will be hoping to put in another display similar to midweek, that has seen him gather the interest of Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

Prediction

Chelsea 1-1 Everton

Chelsea put in one of their finest performances of this term against Liverpool last time out which will have filled the team with confidence. But, with the squad stretched thin due to injury and suspension problems, things might get a touch difficult for Frank Lampard & co. this weekend.

Everton did well in their last assignment against Manchester United and have generally been quite impressive in recent games under Carlo Ancelotti, with the attacking duo of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison causing all sorts of problems to the opposition defence.

The game at Stamford Bridge should be a closely contested one, but given Chelsea’s troubles at home this season coupled with their injury issues, they might be unable to get all three points when Everton come visiting on Sunday. The Hard Tackle predicts this one to end in a 1-1 draw.

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